University of Washington vs City of Seattle, et al.
On June 6, oral arguments were heard at the Washington State Supreme Court on the precedent-setting case between UW and City of Seattle, Historic Seattle, Docomomo WEWA, and the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation.
The fundamental issue is whether a public university is subject to a municipality’s preservation ordinance.
UW claims it is exempt from Seattle’s Landmarks Preservation Ordinance. Several justices questioned why UW complies with other City regulations (such as the Critical Areas ordinance) but not the Landmarks Preservation Ordinance. Knute Berger of Crosscut discusses the key issues in this article.
Grab your popcorn and watch the 45-minute proceeding on TV Washington.
Save the Reactor Wins Modernism Award!
Speaking of the UW…The Save the Reactor campaign was awarded DOCOMOMO US’s “Advocacy Award of Excellence” as part of its 2017 Modernism in America Awards. The awards recognize the highest level of preservation efforts for preserving and documenting modern architecture, and sharing it with the public. This collaborative advocacy effort was commended for going well beyond most efforts and for its impact on the future.
City Released Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for Mandatory Housing Affordability Implementation
Last month, the Seattle Office of Planning and Community Development released a DEIS for the Mayor’s Housing and Affordability and Livability’s Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) policy. The DEIS evaluates three alternatives for implementing zoning changes proposed under the MHA policy, and includes a section addressing historic resources. The DEIS does not include downtown, South Lake Union, Uptown, or the University District, where MHA is already proposed or in effect.
MHA will require new development to provide affordable housing on-site or contribute to a City fund for affordable housing. To implement MHA, the City would grant additional development capacity to allow for construction of more market-rate housing and commercial space. The proposed upzones will impact Seattle’s urban villages and other commercial and multifamily residential zones across the city.
Historic Seattle will be submitting public comments on the proposed alternatives and potential impacts on historic properties. We encourage you to submit comments. The public comment period has been extended to August 7. Click here to find out how to submit comments.
In our opinion, what’s being proposed will have a potentially significant adverse impact on historic preservation. We strongly believe that the City can achieve a balance that will ensure that how we grow is sustainable and resilient while retaining urban character and sense of place. If Seattle continues its tear-down mentality, the city will lose what makes it a vibrant, livable place for all who call it home.
Coliseum/KeyArena and Bressi Garage Nominated as Seattle Landmarks
At its June 21 meeting, the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board approved two separate nomination applications encompassing the Bressi Garage (Pottery Northwest) and kiln shed, and the Coliseum (KeyArena) site including the exterior of the Coliseum and its extant historic structural elements; the exterior of the NASA Building; and the exterior of the Blue Spruce Apartment Building. The West Court Building was not included in the nomination. Historic Seattle and the Queen Anne Historical Society attended the meeting to speak in support of the nominations. Designation for the two properties will be considered at the August 2 Board meeting.
Like the Space Needle and Pacific Science Center, the Coliseum meets all six designation criteria based on its historic, cultural, and architectural merit. Knute Berger, in a Crosscut article, sums up the building’s significance: “Its distinctive look (that hyperbolic paraboloid roof suggestive of a Salish rain hat) makes it a literal recognizable landmark; it’s a highly significant work by architect Paul Thiry, father of Northwest modernism; it is associated with the historic Seattle World’s Fair; and its original cable roof structure was innovative and, though replaced in the mid-1990s, the form of the roof is intact.”
Earlier in June, Mayor Murray announced that Oak View Group (OVG) was chosen as the preferred partner in negotiations with the City to renovate the Coliseum/KeyArena. The other bidder, Seattle Partners/Anschutz Entertainment Group, pulled out of the bidding process. OVG plans to use Federal Historic Tax Credits for this project, and hopes to have the arena renovated by October 2020. Historic Seattle is encouraged that the building’s future stewardship may be secured.
Upcoming Event: King County Modern / Church of the Redeemer Tour – Thursday, July 13
The King County Historic Preservation Program hosts a presentation on the historic context of modern residential architecture in the county. Susan Boyle, AIA, a principal at BOLA Architecture + Planning, and Docomomo WEWA Board member, will present findings from her research into the Modern era heritage of the county on Thursday, July 13. The event takes place in Kenmore at the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, designed by Roland Terry.
Docomomo WEWA is co-sponsoring a tour of the church as part of our Modern Sacred Spaces series. Location: Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, 6210 NE 181st Street, Kenmore, WA 98028. The event starts at 7:00 pm and will end by 8:30 pm. Parking is available on the south side of the main church building. This is event is free and open to the public.
Sidebar photo: lobby of the Temple of Justice, Olympia – parties gather after oral arguments were presented to the State Supreme Court